We all have our favorite darlings. Those words that creep into our writing over and over again.
In my work as a developmental and a line editor, I hone in on those words in other people’s work right away. But in my work… well, that’s a different story entirely.
I actually thought I had a decent handle on my stale words, and then I attended a brilliant workshop by Ariane Peveto at the amazing Rocky Mountain Chapter- SCBWI Letters and Lines conference last weekend.
Let me tell you, Ariane opened my eyes and then some! (I can’t wait to dive into her online content.) Long, amazing presentation short, she said there is an overabundance of the word “look” in our writing. I had NO idea. So, out of curiosity, I did a “find” of the word “look” on my current WIP (which I must add is a YA not a PB). Guess how many times I had some variation of the word look in my manuscript?
YUP! In 60,000 words, I repeated a variation of the word “look” 160 times.
Wow! It is a good thing I’m revising right now.
Today, I challenge you to look for stale words in your manuscript. Find them and then replace them with:
- juicy words
- synonyms that better/best capture the meaning
- terms that DON’T feel like stage directions
- shiny-new sentences or phrases that use wonderful literary tools
- sensory images
Here is a list of “stale” words to spur you forward. (Note: I said “spur you forward” instead “help you get started” which has too many stale words.)
Feel free to comment below with your stale (and favorite) darlings to whom you are bidding adieu and replacing anew. We will all benefit from sharing with each other!
PRIZE ALERT: I am offering two 30-minute Zoom critique consultations to two different winners (one consult each.)
Feel. Write. Risk.
Lauren H. Kerstein is an author and psychotherapist. She is a Jersey girl at heart who currently lives in Colorado with her husband, their two dragons…er, daughters, and their rescue dogs. Lauren is the author of the Rosie the dragon and Charlie picture book series (Illustrated by Nate Wragg/Two Lions) and HOME FOR A WHILE (Illustrated by Natalia Moore/Magination Press). REMEMBERING SUNDAYS WITH GRANDPA (Illustrated by Nanette Regan/Beaming Books) is expected Fall 2023. Lauren also writes books in her field. Lauren’s books include themes of courage, flexible thinking, friendship, social emotional learning, foster care, seeing your strengths, sensory issues, and emotion regulation. She is represented by Deborah Warren with East/West Literary Agency. Her writing goals are simple. Read voraciously. Embrace feedback. Grow each day. Work hard. Be passionate. Write courageously. Touch children’s hearts. You can visit her at www.LaurenKerstein.net.